St Mary's Church, Lead, North Yorkshire
- What's nearby
The Ramblers' Church
Since being rescued by a group of walkers in 1931, St Mary's has been known as the Ramblers' Church. The repairs made then are recorded on the back of the church door.
The church stands alone in the middle of a field filled with the bumps and furrows of earthworks that indicate the site of a medieval manor house, for which St Mary's was probably originally the chapel. Nearby is Towton, the site of the War of the Roses battle, believed to be bloodiest in English history and which brought the Wars of the Roses to an end in 1461. Ten thousand men are said to have been killed and Cock Beck, the little stream which you cross to get to St Mary's, is said to have run red with blood. You can also find monuments to crusading knights in this tiny fourteenth-century church.
Despite its awesome history, St Mary's is a peaceful place. The tiny rectangular building is very simple. It was probably built by the Tyas family, whose massive grave slabs are set into the floor. Carved with heraldic symbols and inscriptions, and dating from the thirteenth century, they are an important and interesting collection. Later additions were made in the eighteenth century, with a rustic pulpit, clerk's pew, reading desk and painted texts.
Our churches cost on average, £2500 per year, to keep them clean, conservation work, maintenance checks and in a safe condition for visitors to come and enjoy.
Please help us to keep our churches open by donating a gift of £5 or £10 by texting the numbers below or visit our donation page here
Text LED to 70970 to give £5
Text LED to 70191 to give £10
Your generous donation will help us to protect a beautiful part of local and national heritage. Thank you!
A strangely beautiful church
A pair of eccentric churches
Stunningly detailed medieval wall paintings
Acces to the church is across a field and there is no made path. There is a small gate in front of the main door which will restrict access for wheelchair users.
Facilities & Hire
Due to the historic nature of our buildings only a small number have heating, running water or toilet facilities. The lighting is usually operated via a 'push button' timer or a motion sensor.
5 miles south of Tadcaster, off B1217; church in a field opposite the Crooked Billet pub near Saxton
Nearest railway station: Church Fenton (2 miles)
History & Further Information
Why not make your visit more enjoyable and informed by finding out more about this church before you visit? You can download a range of publications below including the relevant county guide, and any walk round guides we have for this church.Lead St. Mary - Your Church Tour Yorkshire County Guide 2012
This free of charge short guide contains details of all the churches we care for in North, South and West Yorkshire. Printed copies of the county guides are also available at the church.
All our North Yorkshire churches are in our North region
The Friends of Lead Church
The Friends of Lead Church were formed in 1980 by a group of individuals who were all interested in saving St Mary's Church, Lead. The Friends organise events throughout the year, to raise funds for The Churches Conservation Trust.
The Towton Battlefield Society
The Towton Battlefield Society commermorates the Battle of Towton, which took place close to St Mary's during the Wars of the Roses on 29 March 1461.
Other local links
- Discover North Yorkshire tourism website
- Days out with the kids in North Yorkshire
- North Yorkshire Moors Steam Railway
- A history of North Yorkshire in 10 objects
- The City of York and District Family History Society
- Family History Section of Yorkshire Archaeological Society
- Yorkshire Archaeological Society
- List of churches in North Yorkshire
- North Yorkshire is in the Dioceses of Rippon and Leeds